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Food Science Not Effectively Communicating Safety

Posted: March 19, 2008

A new report by the Food Standards Agency highlights just how widespread consumer misperceptions of food safety are. Some of the highlights:

  • Nearly a quarter of survey respondents believed that consumption of raw milk presented little risk, though evidence clearly shows such products routinely suffer fecal contamination.
  • 65% of respondents voiced concern over genetically modified foods, though no scientific evidence has yielded any additional risk versus traditional foods.
  • The respondents overwhelmingly said they trusted the advice of loved ones over those of scientists when it came to health issues.

Of the results, Colin Blakemore of the General Advisory Committee on Science said, "This survey ... prompts some interesting questions about how and why we judge some food to be risky. [P]eople are more likely to listen to advice about risk from friends than from scientists. It's clear that scientists need to communicate reliable evidence in a way that everyone can understand and to find constructive ways of engaging with the public."